The 90’s, they ruled… amiright? From the fall of the Soviet Union to pre-9/11 Pax Americana, from the Clinton era economic boom to the dot com bubble bursting, the 90’s were the decade that both spawned today’s coveted Millennials and gave rise to consumer-focused virtual reality. Now, almost twenty years later, VR may be the key for marketers looking to connect with Generation Y… errr… the Net Generation… uhhh…people born in the 80’s and 90’s.
Just like the Millennials, VR has grown up a lot since the Seinfeld finale. In 2012, Oculus launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for the rebirth of VR, specifically for console and pc gaming. When Facebook dropped $2b on Oculus in 2014, it officially ushered in the next-generation virtual reality for the masses. Said Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, “They are the clear leader in something that has the potential to be the next important, or one of the next most important, computing platforms.”
In a recent Turnkey Sports Poll, 67% industry executives felt that Millennials were less passionate about sports than baby boomers were at that age. The majority of TSP respondents felt that the most challenging aspects of marketing sporting events to Millennials were maintaining engagement, effectively communicating with them, and developing a Millennial-friendly experience.
Imagine being able to sell an “in-stadium” cultivated experience to thousands (or millions) of fans around the world through VR. Think of the sponsorship sales environment, in which in-stadium signage reaches a global audience and can be targeted to the individual VR “attendee”. The combination of near-daily technological breakthroughs and ever-increasing competition for customers entertainment budgets may make VR the gold mine marketers are searching for.
In the recent Rolling Stone article 7 Ways the Oculus Rift Could Change Entertainment as We Know It, writers mused on the potential for attending live concerts halfway across the globe. Said one, “You want to attend the Fuji Rock Festival, but airfare to Japan is pretty steep. In the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to watch live shows from anywhere in the world from the comfort of your living room and feel like you’re there.”
As noted by Wasserman Media Group’s Fred Porro noted in a recent SportsBusiness Journal article, VR “just getting started, and the price will come down, and it will be around for a while.” Added Porro, “I think that’s going to shape not only the way that we as experiential experts look at what we do, but everyday consumers’ lives.”
The future is now. Attendance as we know it is about to change, and the stage is set for the next big thing.
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